“Disruptive innovations, those new technologies that are expected to create new markets or change or disrupt existing markets, are able to kill two educational birds with one stone,” Technology and Enterprise Coordinator John Keyworth says.

“Not only do disruptive innovations provide the opportunity for higher engagement in the curriculum, they also equip our students with useful knowledge and skills for the future,” he adds.

The drone is fitted with a full HD 1080p video camera that can also shoot stills at 14 megapixels.

It has full GPS capability which allows the machine to be programmed to fly via GPS way points around an area, taking off and landing completely autonomously.

Keyworth says in terms of incorporating the new device into the curriculum, it’s early days, but the school has big plans for the future.

“...the school promo video on our website (see below), I made using sequences taken from practice flights around the school and local area,” Keyworth says.

“Up to now students have learned video editing using the footage that I shot as well as undertaken written work in relation to the impacts of this new technology on individuals, businesses and the community.

“However, planning for next year is underway that will include a much deeper understanding of the concepts involved.”

Aside from providing fantastic opportunities for aerial photography, Keyworth can see many uses for the drone.

“Autonomous flight is a feature of our particular drone and that provides the opportunity to incorporate GPS technology into the curriculum,” he says.

“There are also opportunities to teach measurement in altitude, distance, speed and flight time, which can assist us to achieve whole-school numeracy priorities.

Keyworth says there is also scope to discuss the impact of technologies on society, which is a major part of the WA ICT curriculum.

Keyworth has already incorporated use of another disruptive technology, 3D printing into work with the drone.

“...Students have used the printers to manufacture rotor guards that clip onto the drone’s ‘arms’,” he explains.

“These safety devices prevent someone from getting their fingers caught in the rotors (which do make a terrible mess of your fingers as I found out to my detriment) and they also have the added bonus of preventing rotor damage if the craft lands awkwardly and tips over.”

The next stage of incorporating this exciting technology into the school will include staff training.

“I have already created a flight manual for beginners and have trained my IT technician in how to fly.

“I would like to train other interested teachers so they may benefit from the technology.

“However, these drones are certainly not toys and do require a certain technical competence,” Keyworth says.

There are laws to abide by when flying a drone, and liability issues if the activity results in damage to property, or injury of a person, and Keyworth says these risk factors might put some teachers off.

But Keyworth wants to encourage his colleagues nevertheless.

I do hope that more teachers take an interest and I will certainly be looking out for more ways to integrate drones and 3D printing in the future.